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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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left that country were now Soviet subjects. Nearly all the welfare
representatives of the Polish Embassy were deprived of their Polish
citizenship at the same time. Relief transportation of goods from abroad
had to be given up. The Polesóthese new Soviet citizensóce would have
to work in the frame of the Soviet system."
Many Poles who had been enroute for the relief centres were made to
leave the trains at the first station and report to the N.K.V.D. authorities
who forbade them to quit the locality. Identity papers and certificates
were taken from all Polish citizens in Russia., and, in short, they once
more found themselves interned.
On January 15, the day before the Soviet Government sent its Note,
the Council of the People's Commissars of the U.S.S.R. passed a decree
whereby all the relief institutions of the Embassy were to be taken under
Soviet management and administration. This was to affect all or-
phanages, homes for the disabled., kindergartens., hospitals., medical posts,
etc., all of which were beyond any dispute the property of the Polish
Government. It is noteworthy to observe, moreover, that the Soviet
Government never officially informed the Polish Embassy of their
decision before taking over these institutions.
This action was not at first universal, but began gradually and in different
regions. It actually started in February, 1943, and the first institutions
to be taken over were in the Kuibyshev area, not far from the seat of the
Embassy, while it was not until the end of March that action on a larger
scale was launched, when all the 807 establishments were either brought
under Soviet administration or abolished. This was accomplished by
special commissions consisting of representatives of the N.K.V.D. and
the local education and administrative authorities. Persons who accepted
Soviet citizenship, and children under sixteen whom the Soviet authorities
considered as Soviet citizens by virtue of the law itself, were allowed to
remain in these establishments. The Soviet authorities then proceeded to
appoint new superintendents of the institutions, which they re-organised
so as to eliminate what they considered to be superfluous occupations
(the teaching of religion, prayers, etc.) and to introduce instead Russian
school books, songs, etc.
The dissolving and closing of these 807 relief organisations meant
that all the stores obtained through c Lend-Lease' sources were con-
fiscated by the Soviet authorities_.and thousands of people were left
without any means of existence.
The shock was great, and the Polish Government could not minimise
the impression which the Note had made on their people, particularly
on the Polish Forces abroad and within Poland itself. The soldiers of
the Middle East Army (eighty per cent, were from Eastern Poland) had
passed through the labour camps of Russia. The Commanders of both
the forces in the Middle East> and of those in Britain> furnished a report
to their London Headquarters of the ferment which the situation had